The art and science of the modern marketing team

Mary Ellen Dugan
By Mary Ellen Dugan | 12 August 2020

Mary Ellen Dugan is chief marketing officer at WP Engine.

Fifty years ago, the ‘Golden Age of Advertising’ was all about TV, radio, print, and outdoor spaces. Advertisers would spend months on one campaign with high budgets for the perfect TV spot. It was an era of mass production and in order for businesses and creative agencies to deliver more products, they had to have more people.

But as time and technology advanced, the Golden Age lost its shimmer as advertisers had to adapt to a more digital future. Consumer sentiment changes now in real time, meaning brands and agencies had to adapt using technology to scale, to become more efficient and to reach customers in real time wherever they are. 

COVID-19 brought with it even more changes and an entirely new consumer for which most organisations were not prepared. With the world in lockdown and living online, the digital experience has become the human experience. It’s created an even greater acceleration to digital. 

What’s more is today’s, new, internet-dependent, generation. Generation Z, born between 1996 - 2015, have been fluent in digital much earlier than their predecessors, with 52% of them admitting they can’t go more than four hours without Internet access before becoming uncomfortable. They have radically different and higher expectations around digital than any generation before them.  

To build experiences for a radically accelerated digital world or to inspire brand advocacy from a generation of digital natives, marketers and marketing organizations need to reimagine and organize differently applying both art and science to the establishment of a new digital paradigm.

At the heart of this new paradigm lies data. It has to power to inform every new experience and build every new brand.. Companies who aren’t able to harness this data will quickly be outpaced by fresh, young start-ups who do. 

Another significant change with this new digital paradigm is that, unlike the era of mass production, in order to increase revenue, you do not need to increase headcount. Today, you can count on technology to deliver scalable solutions that bring your product and service to market faster and free up your people to apply their efforts to work that’s focused on strategic creative and digital innovation. 

Lastly, as the pandemic has also forced the entire world into a work from home experiment, with many organisations simultaneously working virtually - technology is providing the glue to keep us in communication, help us get our work done and keep our projects running on time. And with a new CNBC|SurveyMonkey Workforce Survey showing that over 25% of tech sector workers prefer permanent remote work, it’s unlikely the office as we once knew it will ever come back.

Technology has fundamentally changed the formula for how business is run. Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Tech is what's enabling these disruptive business models. 

All this brings us back to marketers and CMOs who find themselves having to navigate this entirely new and complex world. 

Square Peg, Round Hole
In an interview earlier this year about the impact of COVID, with former Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt said, “one way to think about this is that this one month, two months period has brought forth 10 years of forward change. So all of a sudden, the Internet is no longer optional. It's fundamental to doing business, to operate, to live our lives, all sorts of much higher expectations as a result.” COVID has accelerated marketing innovation at an unprecedented pace. CMOS are needing to adapt even the model they had earlier this year. Squeezing and shoehorning your old way of doing business into the new model will only result in a Frankenstein effect of legacy campaigns and team structures that aren’t purpose built with the scale, personalization and speed needed in a digital first reality. The team structure can not just be digital minded - they need to think like a true digital business. 

The Modern Marketing Team
Team dynamics must change. Teams can no longer be siloed with developers and engineers sitting in a different department and marketers bottlenecked waiting for technology support. Today’s modern marketing team must reflect traditional marketing disciplines and new ones brand, creatives, comms, content, data scientists, demand gen, developers, UX designers and product marketers are all needed to bring today’s marketing campaigns to life. The modern marketing team must reflect a diversity of thought, experience, background and talent. From campaign landing pages to personalized content experiences, to ad campaigns created for both digital and print, to narrative and storytelling - today’s marketers must incorporate and take advantage of new digital and analytics tools that allow them to be more agile, engaging and effective. If they don’t, and if they don’t have developers working with data scientists and  with designers - they’re missing out on growth. 

Technology has given the modern marketing team a ticket to agility. But in order to truly harness that technology, today’s marketing teams must incorporate a diversity of skills. For your marketing function to thrive, now more than ever, you need to blend the art and science of engaging, human ingenuity and technology innovation, delighting and keeping customers, while making a profit and building enterprise value.

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